From A Birds Eye View by Cordae
14 Jan 2022
It's a risky move to open your long awaited second studio album with a track revolving around another rapper but it sets the tone of what will prove to be a boundary pushing and deeply personal record from Marylands own, Cordae. From A Birds Eye View has been greatly anticipated by those who were taken aback by the young star's 2019 debut which showed the world what potential he had in him. The way and speed the music industry is moving, two and a half years is a fair amount of time to wait for a follow up so have we been rewarded for our patience? Has Cordae become what we hoped he would?
Shiloh's Intro is a short freestyle down a phoneline by Cordae's childhood friend Shiloh Young. Including this as the opener to the record is in keeping with the personal nature of this project but also nods to some classic nineties and noughties releases that no doubt inspired Cordae. When he eventually drops his first verse in Jean-Michel it's clear he has been doing his homework. The lyricism is much welcomed urban poetry that I thought had almost been forgotten in 2022. Elegantly crafted lines like 'consider this a venomous haiku' are going to earn this young rapper the respect he deserves among those he looks up to. His vocabulary and verse structure consistently hit the mark even when, as we will see, he bounces around various styles, tempos and themes.
Super tells us all about Cordae's A list life and how easy it is for him to make seven million. With his upbeat vocal style and playful writing though this doesn't come across like his arrogant peers throwing bricks of cash at Ferraris filled with bottles of Hennessy. Although he did apparently have 'bad bitches in a new Bentley' so I could be wrong.
Momma's Hood's first verse has the characteristic flow of Tical era Method Man and the beat of the following track Want From Me is screaming early Kanye. I don't think this is accidental. Cordae is not hiding his influences but instead showing the world what made him. For some that includes actual appearances on the album and although the number of features on this record is tasteful they are impressive in their stature. The moody down tempo Champagne Glasses boasts not only a tidy, complimentary verse from Freddie Gibbs but, amazingly, an outro by Stevie Wonder. Elsewhere we are treated to verses from Gunna, H.E.R and of course Lil Wayne on Sinister which was released as a single last year. Eminem fans will be excited to see the collaboration on Parables but unfortunately it goes on far too long for the quality of rhyming Em gives us. I understand Cordae wanted to show his appreciation to someone who helped shape him as a rapper but this collaboration felt forced and unnatural.
Wearing his influences for everyone to see is in line with the way this record as a whole gives us a look inside Cordae's life. We have candid mention of how the death of his grandmother affected him, recordings from his incarcerated friend and even a track named after his High School. Parables touches upon some of the darker periods of his life and in Chronicles he tells us about love. It's all there laid out on the table for us.
No one can deny that hip hop as a genre has been evolving since the days of Grandmaster Flash and it will continue to evolve with every generation. In recent years, especially with the growing popularity of trap and its own development as a sub genre, complex and sharp lyricism has become less of the main focus and sadly we often see the charts topped by artists whose lyrical capabilities could be entirely questioned. Then someone like Cordae comes along who keeps the listener fully engaged with his words alone. Kid Culture, Daoud and various others have done an impressive job of pulling Cordae's voice in to a number of different styles but not stealing any of the limelight from the main act. Its an exciting and refreshing listen that gets my recommendation. Check it out now and let me know your thoughts.